Summer PetCare Tips For You And Your Pet

by Dr. Peter Hill 22. May 2014 06:32

Dr. Peter Hill

Summer is an exciting time for both you and your pet. Time to get outdoors and and enjoy the sunshine and all summer has to offer. The season can also offer up situations that can endanger our pets. By following these simple precautions, you can decrease the chance that a disaster will happen.

We love to take our dogs with us when we travel or run errands. But during warm weather, the inside temperature of a car can reach 120° in a matter of minutes, even if parked in the shade!  This can be extremely dangerous and potentially fatal for any animal left in the car.  Dogs and cats cannot perspire and only dissipate heat thru panting and the pads of their feet. “Normal” body temperature for a dog is about 101 degrees Fahrenheit. Because heat naturally tends to move toward cooler areas, it escapes from a dog’s body in cold temperatures and penetrates the dog in hot temperatures. Pets who are left in hot cars even briefly can suffer from heat exhaustion, heat stroke, brain damage and death!

Don't think that "because you will only be gone a minute", that your pet will be safe. To avoid any chances that you’re pet will succumb to the heat of a car, be sure to play it safe by leaving them home cool and refreshed. If you see an animal in a car alone during the hot summer months, please alert the store management. If the owner does not return promptly, call local animal control and the police department immediately!

First Aid for Heatstroke

When a dog has heatstroke soak it in cool water using a sponge or garden hose; also, use a fan if available, to help cool down the dog. Then, transport the animal to the nearest Veterinarian. The goal of emergency treatment is to gradually reduce the dog’s rectal temperature to 103 degrees over a 30 to 60 minute period.

Do Not immerse the dog’s body in very cold water or ice. Doing so will constrict the skin’s blood vessels’ trapping heat inside and keeping the body’s core temperature high. Even if you manage to reduce a heatstroke victim’s temperature’ the patient may still not be “Out of the Woods” because secondary complications are quite common. A veterinarian can safely and quickly reduce temperature by infusing cool fluids either intravenously or intra-abdominally. A veterinarian will also check for and treat heatstroke consequences such as shock, seizure, and the imbalance of electrolytes. Remember: Preventing heatstroke is far preferable to treating it. Unlike many other illnesses it can be completely avoided by taking preventive actions.    

  • It is very dangerous and in some states illegal to drive with a dog in the back of a pickup truck. Not only can flying debris cause serious injury, but a dog can be thrown into traffic should the driver need to brake suddenly or is hit by another car.  Dogs should ride in the cab in a secured crate or wearing a K9 seat belt harness, or in a secured crate in the bed of a truck.
  • Summer is when a lot of people fertilize lawns and work in their gardens. Plant food, fertilizers and insecticides can be fatal if your pet ingests them. In addition, more that 700 types of plants can produce toxic substances in sufficient amounts to cause harmful effects in animals.
  • With more people and dogs spending time outside, dog bites are likely to increase during the summer months. Spaying or neutering your dog reduces the ‘urge’ to want to roam and subsequently fight or bite.  Spaying and neutering also provide many long-term health benefits!
  • Always make sure your pet is wearing a collar with proper identification. Micro chipping is an easy and inexpensive way of identifying your pet should he become lost. This is performed at your veterinarian’s office and often is the difference between a lost pets returning home.
  • Pets and pools equal disaster!  Prevent free access to pools and always supervise your pet while in or around a pool.
  • Provide plenty of water and shade while your pets are enjoying the outdoors.
  • When traveling with your pet during the summer, take the time necessary to prepare for your furry friends well in advance. Many to most airlines have strict summer embargoes and will require a health certificate. Careful planning can mean the difference between a pleasant trip and a vacation nightmare!
  • Pets, like us, need exercise in the summer. Extra care needs to be taken with older animals, short nosed breeds (such as pugs), and those with thick coats. Limit activity to early morning or late evening. Bear in mind that asphalt can become very hot and could burn your pets’ paws.
  • Fleas and ticks are a summertime nuisance! Be sure to use treatments that are veterinarian recommended. Some over the counter flea and tick products can be toxic even when used appropriately.
  • Just like us, pets can become sunburned. Those that have light colored noses, or light colored fur, especially on their ears are particularly vulnerable to sunburn and skin cancer. They may require sunscreen to protect these sensitive areas.
  • Please don’t take your pet to crowded events such as fairs or concerts. The loud noises combined with the heat can be unduly stressful and dangerous. Be aware of these threats especially during the holidays, especially Fourth of July. Remember, they don’t enjoy these events as we do!

Taking just a little extra care, caution and planning will ensure everyone has a safe and happy summer!

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